Capacity of Large-scale CSMA Wireless Networks

Joint work with Chi-Kin Chau from University College London, and Soung Chang Liew from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

In the literature, asymptotic studies of multi-hop wireless network capacity often consider only centralized and deterministic TDMA (time-division multi-access) coordination schemes. There have been fewer studies of the asymptotic capacity of large-scale wireless networks based on CSMA (carrier-sensing multi-access), which schedules transmissions in a distributed and random manner. With the rapid and widespread adoption of CSMA technology, a critical question is that whether CSMA networks can be as scalable as TDMA networks. To answer this question and explore the capacity of CSMA networks, we first formulate the models of CSMA protocols to take into account the unique CSMA characteristics, not captured by existing interference models in the literature. These CSMA models determine the feasible states, and consequently the capacity of CSMA networks. We then study the throughput efficiency of CSMA scheduling as compared to TDMA. Finally, we tune the CSMA parameters so as to maximize the throughput to the optimal order. As a result, we show that CSMA can achieve throughput as \Omega(1/\sqrt{n}), the same order as optimal centralized TDMA, on uniform random networks. Our CSMA scheme makes use of an efficient backbone-peripheral routing scheme and a careful design of dual carrier-sensing and dual channel scheme. We also address practical implementation issues of our capacity-optimal CSMA scheme.

Major part of the work was done when Chi-Kin Chau visited The Chinese University of Hong Kong, under the support of the Direct Grant (Project Number 2050397) of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.


  • C. Chau, M. Chen, S. Liew, “Capacity of Large Scale CSMA Wireless Networks”, accepted for publication in IEEE Trans. on Networking. [PDF]. (A conference version appears in the Proceedings of ACM MOBICOM 2009.)